With several seats up for election on the Screen Actors Guild’s (SAG) national board, a SAG spokesperson said the tallying of the mail-in ballots is scheduled to take place Fri., Nov. 3.
The SAG national board election comes on the heels of a six-month commercial strike, which just ended. [The joint boards of SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) met in plenary session last weekend in Universal City, Calif. and voted to end the strike. A back to work order was issued on Oct. 30.]
What comes of the current SAG election will influence the union’s operations and management into next year when the guild renegotiates its theatrical contract with producers. At that time, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) will also be negotiating its mainstream contract, the Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA).
During the (Oct. 23) SAG and AFTRA press conference in New York announcing the tentative deal with commercial producers and advertising interests, Academy Award winning Best Actor Richard Dreyfuss alluded to the board elections, saying he believed that people would be hearing “speculation” and a lot about “different factions” operating within the guild. Obviously encouraged by the actors’ deal with advertisers and seeking to move forward in a constructive manner, Dreyfuss clearly anticipated media scrutiny and hinted at the internecine political maneuvering over the current election.
Dreyfuss cautioned his peers about the need to nurture unity in a time of crisis. As the commercial strike wore on, more was heard about the SAG election and the guild’s cumbersome structure—there are 105 board members in the democratically run union. Over the years, the guild membership has yielded various alliances and factions that have agitated for change. One such group, the two-year-old Performers’ Alliance, a California-based faction now holds a majority of SAG national seats and is credited with helping push the recent commercial strike through. There are other groups—some bent on radical reform and others intent on protecting the status quo and the often strong bonds that can exist between SAG members and the guild’s long term staffers.
These factions notwithstanding, there does seem to be a struggle to determine the direction of reform at SAG. The results of the current election are expected to provide some sense of the union’s future.
-- By Murdoch McBride